Prior to Going on Recess Senate Approves Bill to Implement Patent Treaties

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The Senate passed by voice vote Sept. 22 the Patent Law Treaties Implementation Act of 2012, S. 3486, a bill aimed at bringing into force provisions of two treaties originally signed by President William Jefferson Clinton in 1992.

An identical House counterpart, H.R. 6432, was introduced Sept. 19. However, no action was taken on the House bill prior to Congress adjourning until after the Nov. 6 elections.

Bill Passes Judiciary Committee.

Introduced Aug. 2 by Sens. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.) and Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa), their parties' leaders on the Senate Judiciary Committee, S. 3486 would implement the provisions of the Hague Agreement and the Patent Law Treaty (150 PTD, 8/6/12).

At a Sept. 20 markup, Leahy introduced an amendment in the nature of the substitute to the bill. The changes were all technical in nature.

The Patent Law Treaty limits and synchronizes patent application filing formalities among member countries. “American businesses and inventors will benefit from harmonized applications, reducing the cost of doing business and encouraging U.S. innovators to protect and export their products internationally,” Leahy said when the bill was introduced.

Under the Hague system, U.S. applicants can apply for design patent protection in all member countries by filing a single application at the Patent and Trademark Office. “By simplifying the process for American businesses to obtain design patents overseas, the Hague Agreement will reduce barriers for small and mid-size companies to expand into foreign markets,” Leahy said while introducing the bill.

Both treaties were ratified by the U.S. Senate in 2007. Implementing legislation is necessary for the United States to become a member of the treaties.

At the markup, Leahy noted that the treaties were signed way back in 1992 by then President Clinton and were sent to the Senate by the President George W. Bush, and that they had broad bipartisan support.

Rep. Lamar S. Smith (R-Texas), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, introduced a companion bill in the House Sept. 19. That bill, H.R. 6432, is co-sponsored by Reps. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich), Robert W. Goodlatte (R-Va.), and Melvin L. Watt (D-N.C.).

H.R. 6432 tracks the language of the amended S. 3486.

By Tamlin H. Bason  

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